Why They’re Not Getting to Your Resume (Common Cover Letter Mistakes)

From the desk of Sarah Wolfe, CSP – PSG Recruitment Manager


In order for your resume to make the great first impression you need, your cover letter needs to help you get your foot in the door. There is all kinds of advice available on how to craft the cover letter that will help you get noticed, but the truth is there are a number of critical mistakes many applicants make that prevent them from getting that chance. You may be fully qualified based on experience and skill set, but if employers are throwing out your application before they even get to your resume, these cover letter mistakes may be to blame.

Mistake #1: Your Cover Letter is Too Long

Cover letters need to be kept brief. Reviewers don’t have more than a couple seconds to scan a resume. They have even less time to read cover letters. Don’t make the mistake of writing a lengthy letter that is fluffy or padded. Get to the point and hit the highlights of your resume as they relate to the job you are applying to. You want to show reviewers you are able to communicate in a clear and concise manner, while assuring them you are worthy of a closer look as an applicant. A great cover letter is one that gets your message across in less than a page, with plenty of white space to help break up the text for easy reading.

Mistake #2: Your Cover Letter is a Template

Another common mistake candidates make is to use impersonal or irrelevant cover letters for their job applications. It is tempting to use the same generic language for different job applications, but what you save in time you lose in effectiveness. Remember your cover letter is a chance for you to make an impact. If you use vague or generic wording in your cover letter, you run the real risk of boring the reader and having your resume overlooked. Show employers you are interested in working for them and write to the job description.

Mistake #3: Not Selling Your Resume

A cover letter is a unique opportunity in that it provides applicants with the chance to tell their story in a more human voice than that of a resume. It’s your chance to describe why you would be a great fit for the position. Don’t rewrite your resume or outline your work history and qualifications. Instead, use the cover letter as a hook to attract the reader’s attention and make them give your resume the attention it deserves.

A cover letter should open the conversation that a resume and interview continue. It should highlight your achievements and qualifications as they pertain to the job you are applying to and present that information in a brief and data-supported manner. Your cover letter is a unique tool. An ineffective or repetitive cover letter is a wasted opportunity. For help writing a powerful cover letter that opens doors, connect with the team at PSG Mississippi today.

Sarah Wolfe, CSP – PSG Recruitment Manager

It is always a great feeling to help someone get a good job at a large company with a terrific benefit package, but I particularly take pleasure in helping small businesses compete and win at hiring the best talent. The PSG difference is the effort we put into cultivating a “trusted advisor” relationship with our clients and candidates.  This collaborative experience produces the very best hires!

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